Bamboo for 3-wire Trellis construction for Tall spindle System

jjstatzAugust 8, 2013

This coming year we are purchasing another 1.5 acres for the orchard. I'm interested in doing a higher density planting in this area using a slightly modified version of the tall spindle system while applying the practices of the holistic approach. Our goal is to use bamboo as the primary support and in-line for the trellis.

Reasons being: 1.) Extremely economical compared to untreated posts. 2.) Rapidly renewable resource. 3.) We're designating .5 acre as a bamboo grove and can use our own grown materials to build future structures and generate another source of income (bamboo packing hut anyone?)

My initial plan for each is 6' x 4" bamboo pole set in concrete or driven 4-5' into the ground at 45 degree angle with 3, 12.5 gauge wires run. The end post would be a 10' x 4" bamboo pole set in concrete or driven 4' in at an angle Are there any glaringly obvious design flaws here? Have any of you used bamboo in this fashion? Any recommendations for running a wire trellis like this? Basically, am I crazy to try this?

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Very few timber bamboo grows in Z5. without some kind of protection. Those that survived, does not grow 4" thick. They can't be use as timber. I have 3 years timber bamboo growing near the house which is not a good idea because bamboo has very strong roots but the micro environment is warmer for it to survive. It only about 1" thick stick, good for trellis the beans/cucumbers maybe .

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 4:31PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

On a very fertile soil you may get much more growth than you want. And isn't a tall spindle at least 10ft tall? You'll need a very strong trellis. That doesn't sound like bamboo you can grow in Iowa. Also I don't understand 20 and 30 inch wire height. You'll need 6-8 wires up to 10ft height.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 5:17PM
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As far as I know, bamboo is wood of choice for long-lasting structure. It's not hardwood. I have a large grove of 15 ' high running bamboo in the back yard.

Like Olympia said, using it as a trellis, would be fine but for support posts, I don't think it'll last very long esp in zone 5, where weather is severe.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 8:53PM
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its a fun and nice idea, but iowa winters smack us back to earth and reality, that bamboo wasn't meant for here.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 11:21PM
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As someone who has never used a hi density apple planting but is reading extensively about it with plans to put in a limited planting for own use, I have a couple comments.
First, your statement "6' x 4" bamboo pole set in concrete or driven 4-5' into the ground at 45 degree angle" is unclear - are these the posts for each tree support? I don't think those are done in concrete and are not angled, at least as done typically. And if the post is 6' long it is not going to have enough sticking out of the ground for tree support. You could surely use vertical bamboo support posts at each tree but I believe they usually extend about a height of 6' above ground.
Second, I agree with what others say about the use of bamboo for the trellis support posts - use something more sturdy for support against the winds and storms your trees will face. Treated lumber posts or galvanized steel posts would likely last much longer and give better support.
Third, the recommendations of some of the experts are for a 4 wire system, but maybe with a bamboo support at each tree you could get by with 3.
Lastly, if this is your first attempt with a tall spindle system would it be better to do a smaller trial first to learn the basics of planting, training, trellising, and pruning using that system before doing such a large planting?

Anyway, as someone with an interest I would love to hear about how this works out, would love to see pics of your tall spindle system on the forum here when it happens. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Bamboo We'd be growing: Would mostly be used for smaller scale trellis. The packing hut would be a little overly ambitious, obnoxious, and improbable. I do have a plan in place for keeping the "terrifying" root system of bamboo under control. Trenching. Trenching. Trenching. Our bamboo (not initially) would also be used for supporting the vertical leader since in 3 line the major issue is breakage. One the vertical leader in a 3 wire system reaches the third wire, the system can be succesful. We'll be trialing a 3 wire row vs a 5 wire row with bamboo in-line supports, but replacing the trellis structure with posts (see below).

Wire system: Scraping the bamboo idea. It was novel. I did find a bamboo that would work after talking to several bamboo "experts" and 3 - 4" diameter gadua bamboo post would do the job, but in the end found a source of old telephone posts (that are much, much cheaper). Before you start screaming about creosote, I found a coating product available that eliminates the issue of leaching in the soil. and probably spar/some other coating for the outside/unburied parts.

Height: It doesn't need to be 10ft tall. The trellis can be 6 or 8 or whatever height the grower wants it to be. I'm making this trellis either 6 or 8ft tall depending on costs mostly so picking isn't such a costly operation.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:26AM
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Here is a rough drawing of what I'm referring to. Bamboo being of a typical trellis sized piece which would only be used for a season or two at the most.

This post was edited by jjstatz29 on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 11:50

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:41AM
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A tall spindle system is nothing to play with; use pressure-treated 6x6 posts for the end posts and anchors, and close up your spacing between the mid-row posts. If one component fails, it usually takes the whole row down with it; see the attached heartbreaking video. In Europe they use reinforced concrete posts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Massive Trellis Failure

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 8:36AM
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First thing, I am in zone 4. Bamboo are some of my favorite plants, and I have had 2 kinds grow successfully with protection - Phyllostachys areosulcata "alata", and Fargesia "Rufa".

I know people who grow bamboo in Iowa. The one guy has Phyllostachys nigra and bissetii. I believe they both die back i his north central iowa garden, but he does not protect them, and they are younger plants.

You should have no problem with fargesia, but they are not timber bamboo. The main "hardy" timber bamboo is Phyllostachys edulis "moso bamboo". This is reliably hardy in zone 6. I know someone growing them in zone 5 upstate ny, but the lake moderates the climate.

There is a "new" species called phyllostachys parvifolia. Touted as "the best timber bamboo for cold climates", and as far as I have read this is actually true! A friend grows it outside of Toronto, and I dont think he has had ANY die back what so ever. I belive heights of 20 feet wont be uncommon even in zone 5 if the canes dont die back! They are also a rampant runner, so you should never run out of canes. It upsizes quick, even in cool climates, and has some of the best rated edible shoots! I finally got a rhizome of it, but the squirrels got to it :(

Bamboo is a great source of supports and are economical and sustainable. You can tie a few of the canes together to make a "post". The only thing is, it will take 2 or 3 years to get get good enough size to harvest.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 9:01AM
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Actually any of the fargesii do worse than phyllostachys in this climate. I have tried growing nearly 50 species or more of bamboo and am in the same area as the OP. Without giving baby care to them, they will not do great. In our climate, the sun shines a lot in winter and the ground is frozen, thus that means top kill is a given in a typical winter. So a person can have a bunch of 1 year culms that haven't hardened properly, so will not be as strong, thus rot faster.

There is no reason to do trenching for the running bamboo unless you are keeping them out of garden or something. Mowing easily controls them in large areas. Drought of the past couple years has controlled them a lot too and has caused a lot of stress to the plants because their roots are too shallow.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:18PM
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That does also depend on placement. I know people who grow many fargesia in south carolina; a much worse climate then iowa (minus the winters) for fargesia.

Either way, have you by chance tried parvifolia there? I cannot remember if anyone I know is growing it in your state.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:20PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Bamboo will work as shown in your picture above. You're not using it to support the crop load. Part of the confusion is the picture isn't a tall spindle system. Tall spindle is 10ft tall or more. And it sounded like you were wanting bamboo to support all 10ft of tree and crop.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Fine, it's a high density 3-wire trellis. Misnomer. I probably didn't have enough coffee when I wrote the original post.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 1:51PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Hopefully this is not a hijack but I was looking into the same thing and found these fiberglass stakes. Has anyone tried them?

Here is a link that might be useful: Fiberglass Tree Stakes/Fence Posts

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Mr. Bamboo, I'am in the third year of using the " Vertical Axis System"! I have made all the mistakes! Forget the bamboo stakes. Unless you are planting B-9 or other shallow root cultivors, you don't need a pole. If you are using two wires between poles, just use plastic ties to attach the central leader to the wires. If your planting B-9 dwarlfe stock use 1/2" metal electrical conduit 10' long putting it 2' into the ground, and plastic tie the tree to the pipe.As far as the poles for the wires go----- 12' 4x6 treated posts on the ends of the rows set into ground at 40 degrees and use a screw anchor to attatch the wires. Cement in the ground 36". Good luck

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 8:44PM
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Few questions for Galagala - On B-9 dwarfing rootstock. What spacing are you using for trees? And how long are your rows? with how many trees per row? And what problems have you faced?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 3:49PM
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